First and foremost – my husband is home! YAY! He got home a few days ago, and just started at his new job today. It’s been a huge change having someone else here, but I think it’s one that I will deal with just fine. The boys have grown a lot since he was last home with us full-time, and we’ve established routines and ways of doing things that are new to my husband. He’ll be adjusting the same as us. So far, so good. I think it will be even easier once the kids are in school. Our four year old will be starting 4K, and our three year old will be starting an early childhood development course for children diagnosed with autism. I’m hoping they can at least get him to start talking using words. It’s so hard to figure out what he needs, even though he’s getting very good with sign language. I would love to hear the thoughts in his head someday.

Now for the second YAY! When the hubby was over in Iraq, I was busy scoping out land in the area. I had a few candidates that were promising, but only one that really stood above the rest. After seeing it once, he was sold, so we put in an offer on it. Our offer has been accepted, and now we are just waiting to hear from the Title company for the paperwork to go through. It’s 13 acres of very varied land in northern Wisconsin. There are about 7 acres of cleared meadow dotted with a tree here and there, about an acre of soggy marshland that will probably be dug out as a pond in the future, and 5 acres of hardwood forest. The land has hills all over, the main one being about an acre across on top with open slopes facing east and south.

So now begins the journey on our land. First up – getting a decent driveway put in so we can start construction. As it is right now, it’s an overgrown switchback that our van hardly passes over unscathed. Once that is in, or maybe around the same time, we’ll be getting a well dug and electricity run. Our dream was to live off the grid, but on our limited budget we can’t afford a solar set-up yet. It’s something we’ll have to build up to. The final thing to complete before winter sets in will be to set the foundation piers. We’ll be building a post and pier house that is raised up off the ground by the piers. We’re estimating it will be around 20’x30′ with a small loft for the boys’ bedrooms. As soon as we decide on a floor plan and get it okay’d by the building inspector, I’ll post the plans on here. I also plan on posting detailed pictures, descriptions, and prices of everything we do to get this house built.

We are basing our plans and goals on similar ones we have found on countryplans.com, but are customizing the floor plan to suit our tastes rather than using a stock one. If we’re going to live in it for a while, we better like it! Some of the customization includes a walk-in shower, a sawdust toilet, a woodstove for heat, a smaller-than-normal hot water heater and bladder, and lots of storage space. We’ll also be doing built-in beds with drawers beneath. Lots of fun stuff, and we’re finally getting started!

I decided to try a new bread recipe today, and thought I’d share it with you all. It smells heavenly! There’s nothing like the smell of fresh-baked bread to pick up my spirits (though having a husband home for good and a piece of land to settle are neck and neck with it!).

3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky – just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

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